As a Meadville taxpayer, I certainly have concerns with our potential $630,000 budget deficit. I also have the greatest respect for Larry McKnight but disagree with him.

I think his comments about the three nonprofit facilities and shortfall in tax collection is, categorically, wrong. Meadville Medical Center, Allegheny College and Wesbury United Methodist Community offer something to Meadville and Crawford County that exceeds any possible benefit of a greater revenue increase in their Payment in Lieu of Taxes.

Realize, of course, that all these parties are tax-exempt and pay the appropriate amount of taxes in properties that have been deemed “taxable.” In facilities that qualify for tax-exempt status, they have voluntarily opted to send payments in lieu of taxes. This is fair based on the overwhelming value that all three bring to our community.

Meadville Medical Center is the largest employer in Crawford County, and both Allegheny and Wesbury employ our neighbors, family and friends. Millions of dollars of payroll is spent in our city by these three employers with revenue sent from federal, state and individuals outside of our community for their services. The individual missions of each facility is something that is both unique and essential for our city to develop and if they are adversely affected, our city will be negatively impacted in the short and long term.

My good friend, the most cynical person in the world, said, “You're only saying that stuff because they are your customers. It's obvious you have a stake in them.” I clearly agree with him. All three of these facilities: Meadville Medical Center, Allegheny College and Wesbury are major and important customers to our small, family-owned business.

I'm not the least bit ashamed to support them, because if they and other good clients weren't around, the 25 families in our business will be negatively impacted. What's even more important, without these three community assets, we would have a difficult time paying our pretty heavy tax bill, and we are not the only local business that depends on these three institutions. Yes, I most assuredly have a bias.

GARY DeSANTIS

Meadville

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